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Here's to life 

Once upon a time, there was a Big Bang, or someone said "Let there be light!" or a giant cosmic turtle with four elephants on its back swam onto the scene, and pretty much everything started happening. Time, space, matter, gravity, jazz-you name it, it popped into being, or gradually evolved over time, or whatever. I wasn't there.

Then the trouble started. It was called life. Remember, I wasn't there, so it couldn't be my fault. A few days or a few billion years after the beginning, depending on who you talk to, things started living here on Earth. Then, as is usually the case when things start living, things started dying.

Dinosaurs went extinct. Brothers started killing each other and making excuses about not being each other's keepers. There were earthquakes and volcanoes and maybe a big flood - just about every culture on the planet agrees on that - and a whole bunch of living things died.

Then, environmental groups formed. They believed that it was okay for Mother Nature or natural selection or God to wipe out whole categories of plants and animals, but that people should remember their roots - whichever religious or scientific roots they believed in - and leave the rape of the countryside to the professionals upstairs.

Then, taking a cue from the living things they were trying to protect, the environmental groups started dying. Just look at the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, known to us locals as ECOSLO.

Mother Nature, God, et al, have been busy, like always, increasing the human population and then sending storms and tsunamis to take the numbers back down a few notches. Each and every humanitarian cause and non-profit hoping to help save whales or feed hungry children or spay and neuter cats in the face of such adversity needs money to make its program work, and the more causes there are, the thinner those donated dollars get stretched. Sometimes to the breaking point.

Now, ECOSLO's coffers are a bit dusty, and the current executive director, Bob Wolf, is donating his time to the local cause until something happens to inject a little cash back into the system. If that doesn't happen, the group may go the way of the dodo and passenger pigeon for want of funds. Then, without its members voices speaking for the trees and all that, other living things - at least ones in the county - might start heading down that road, too. That's what the environmentalists say, anyway, but they're a dying breed. I mean, who paid attention to the few dinosaurs who pointed at the mammals with their fur and warm blood and suggested planning ahead?

Lucky for us, nobody did. Then all the big lizards died and turned into oil that we can tap into offshore, just as soon as there aren't any organized environmentalists around to slap our hands and cluck their tongues at us.

Of course, as soon as we got our grubby little hands on the oil, somebody like Greka Energy would just spill it all anyway. The company lost a load in a creek earlier this month, leading the Santa Barbara County fire department to issue a stop-work order.

Greka Energy, in case you haven't heard, is a lawsuit-embattled company with facilities on the Central Coast. It's known for its spills, of varying amounts, which happen quite regularly. I could tell you more about the company's history or ethics or staff, but the official web site is down - as has been down for quite a while.

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency said that he hadn't seen "any oiled wildlife" as a result of the early December spill, but considering how 50 barrels of the stuff took a trip down the creek, I wouldn't be surprised if there's at least one tiger salamander or red-legged frog mired in the mess. Also, I think "oiled wildlife" sounds like a frat-house prank, or a good band name.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department said that it would inspect the facility on the Dec. 9, but Greka postponed the request, sort of like a teenager yelling "Just a minute!" while frantically stuffing weed and porn under the mattress while an angry parent waits right outside the door.

 

Sick, sick, sick

All that talk about extinction earlier made me seriously consider my own health. To be honest, I haven't been feeling very good lately, but that's probably because I've been gambling instead of volunteering with local charities, and that makes me feel bad.

I also haven't been feeling very well lately, but that's probably because my hands are numb and losing sensitivity. It's like I've got mittens on all the time.

To top it all off, I think I'm getting sick. My symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle aches, jaundice, and possibly liver failure or death.

Fortunately, I haven't eaten at any McDonald's restaurants in Paso Robles lately, so I don't think I contracted anything from a hepatitis A-laden employee who happened to slap my burger together. Actually, I haven't eaten in Paso Robles at all lately. It may be darn near paradise, but I just can't bring myself to drive over the grade unless it's absolutely necessary. The drive wastes too much gas, and that wastes too much oil.

Of course, if I get really sick, I may have to drive out of the area anyway. My Blue Cross insurance isn't worth what it used to be here in town.

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